Transitioning Spaces: From Efficient to Inviting with the International WELL Building Standard

The construction industry is known for it’s abundance of standards and guidelines, many of which vary by country and even between cities. Over time, a cultural shift has occurred where people are no longer concerned solely with the efficiency of a space, but rather broadening their approach to include both the physical and emotional well-being of a building’s occupants. This next generation of requirements, dubbed the WELL Building Standard, was born out of this cultural shift, and is dedicated entirely to enhancing the well-being of occupants. The main focus is to promote the creation of buildings that are developed primarily with people’s health and wellness in mind, and works in conjunction with LEED and Green Business Certifications.

The initial version of this practice is currently being applied in commercial and institutional office buildings, with additional versions for retail, multi-family residential, education, restaurant and commercial kitchen projects. These pilot projects are helping to shape the future of construction as the feedback provided is integrated into the final WELL Building Standard that will be ranked in a three tiered system; Silver, Gold and Platinum.

WELL measures 7 broad concepts, which are made up of over 100 features. These categories include; Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind. Breaking down these subjects and deciphering how they can be integrated into each project takes time and collaboration.

The TD Bank Group’s newly renovated workspace in Toronto, Canada is the first project to achieve a Gold Level WELL Certification under WELL v1. The completion of this project is a milestone for the International WELL Being Institute (IWBI), and has been well received by the industry as a whole. IWBI Founder Paul Scialla is “tremendously proud” of the TD project and the rise in volume of newly registered projects.

The WELL Building Standard is certainly gaining traction and was featured at NeoCon 2016 in Chicago, where visitors attended a half-day workshop on “Understanding the WELL Building Standard”. This program focused on the intent, key elements and requirements of WELL, while imparting tips on how best to harness these strategies to support human health, well-being and comfort.
For a shorter introduction to the WELL experience, NeoCon guests attended a Keynote Event, hosted by the IWBI founder Paul Scialla. Topics included an introduction to the WELL Building Standard, costs and benefits, early examples of WELL buildings, and performance-based metrics for health and wellness in the built environment.